By Angelos Anastasiou
The Assize Court on Monday postponed the trial relating to a suspicious land-zoning case, for which Aristo Developers founder Theodoros Aristodemou, his wife Roula, Aristo’s designer Christos Solomonides, and former Paphos municipality engineer Savvakis Savva, are facing charges of – among others – forgery, conspiracy to defraud, abuse of power, and legalising moneys obtained from illicit actions to January 27.
According to the charge sheet, the facts of the case date back to 2010, when Aristo applied for a zoning permit to demarcate its land in Skali, Paphos and was granted demarcation rights for 177 plots.
At a later stage, it appeared that the Land Registry’s records of the approved permit were falsified by replacing the approved architectural plans with amended ones, which ceded the company an additional area of some 2,730 square metres for development – estimated to be worth around €1.1 million – at the expense of the legally mandated green space and road network.
According to the charge sheet, Savva was also paid off to assist the company in carrying out its plans.
Assize Court president Dora Sokratous accepted the continuance request by the defence, which argued that due to increased workloads from other high-profile and complex cases it has undertaken, such as those of Dromolaxia and TEPAK, warranted a two-week continuance. The court noted that adequate preparation by counsellors is not only a necessary element of proper defence, but will also contribute to expediting the process.
Sokratous pointed out that although the Court itself was facing increased workloads, it found the defendants’ request justified.
But, she noted, this would be the first and last time the Court accepted a continuance request.
The four defendants were released on bail of €100,000 each and under conditions, including adding their names to the stop-list – meaning they would not be allowed to leave the country – and handing in their travel documents.
The prosecution did not object to the continuance request, acknowledging it had been notified of the defence’s intention to argue for it beforehand.
Theodoros and Roula Aristodemou, as well as Solomonides, are facing 32 charges each, while Savva is facing four additional ones relating to his capacity as a public official. The four defendants pled not guilty to all charges.
They are facing trial by the Assize Court, comprising its president Dora Sokratous, Senior District Court judge Lia Markou, and District Assize Court judge Michalis Droushiotis.